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Will APEX really make a difference?

Posted on August 14, 2006

By Terri Breining

I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with the APEX initiative since it formally began in January 2001.  At that time, the idea of APEX was very exciting to me, although I was skeptical. The possibility of people in the meeting industry utilizing the same language, referencing documents with the same formatting when planning or reviewing a meeting, and creating tools that enable us to communicate more effectively was always a great idea. But could we really make it happen?

Well, yes, its happening.  Its not done yet, and we certainly have more work to do, but we have accomplished much. Our first tangible product is an APEX toolbox that is being distributed to thousands of planners around North America, and it is quickly building plenty of excitement.  In Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, he talks about the flywheel that begins to move very slowly as a result of great effort.  As the effort is sustained, however, the flywheel starts to gain momentum, and eventually, it is flying at high speed and with relatively little effort.  I believe this analogy fits the process that the APEX initiative has undergone.  In the beginning, there were a few people who believed it was possible.  Through their hard work and persistent turning of the APEX flywheel, others came to believe it was possible and joined in.  The result to date is the identification of best practices in several areas, and a set of tools that help provide consistency in how those best practices are utilized by both planners and suppliers.

And while the flywheel isn’t spinning at top speed quite yet, it is certainly moving with some velocity.  Next up is the refinement of existing tools with better technology and the introduction of new tools.  Soon, those tools will be web-enabled, making them more available and easier to use for everyone.  At the same time, software developers are right now working on new programs that incorporate the APEX tools and processes.  Very cool stuff.

So, this week, I’m going to be addressing APEX.  I have some obvious bias, but I’d really like to hear what the rest of the community – particularly those not quite as involved – is thinking.  I do know there is great diversity of opinion about this topic, and here’s an opportunity to share it.


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Joan Eisenstodt

Terri: So pleased this is being addressed. What I hope is that many of the suppliers in our world read what you write. We're adding APEX language to what we writing into contracts (re post-cons and more) and I find that w/ the new hotel ownership, much work needs to be done to get the OWNERS on board. Thanks!

Terri Breining

Thanks for your comments Joan. I agree that in order for APEX to be successful, it absolutely must have the participation of both planners and suppliers. The good news is that the suppliers who really get this are very enthusiastic about what APEX can do for them in terms of savings in personnel time and other resources. The challenge is that they have some hesitation about making significant changes in their systems for something they're not yet sure will stick. However, as more planners become aware of APEX, start to incorporate it into their planning process, and it becomes the norm, the successful suppliers will certainly accomodate their customers. It is not unlike our transformation over the last couple decades as our "rush correspondence" has gone from air mail to overnight mail to fax to email and instant messaging.

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